• Hem
  • A Brit On Thin Ice
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

Shock results as two new teams enter the SHL 2019/20

The qualification for the 2019/20 SHL places between the bottom two clubs in the SHL and the best two clubs in the Hockeyallsvenskan is now over.

And the surprise is that neither Mora IK or Timrå IK will stay in the top division, but instead will be replaced by Leksand IF and IK Oskarshamn.

Shock results in Hockeyallsvenskan 

The regular season in Allsvenskan saw Stockholm’s AIK cruise to the top of the league 11 points ahead of second placed Oskarshamn. AIK were expected to sail through the decider series against the second place team and have a good chance taking on Timrå in the qualifier. 

But the team from Småland we’re having none of it and beat the Stockholm club 2-1 in games. 

Whilst Oskarshamn have the best two keepers from the regular season in youngsters Adam Åhman (19 yrs) and Christoffer Rifalk (22 yrs), it is AIKs Erik Källgren (22 yrs) who has caught attention of North American scouts. Having been drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2015 they took up their right to take him to America where he is currently in the roster for their AHL team, Tucson Roadrunners. 

AIK knocked out

However, the Stockholm club got a second bite at the cherry playing fourth placed, Leksand IF, who won their playoff match. And again the favourites were unable to get the job done and were defeated by thr Dalarna club who finished the season 19 points behind AIK. Perhaps it was partly to do with experience as the win for Leksand meant for the third season in a row they would play their closest rivals, Mora IK, in the SHL qualifier.

Timrå v Oskarshamn 

Timrå may have struggled in the SHL, but were the favourites for the series against the Allsvenskan club. The games proved tight as tight can be - the first three matches being decided by overtime. So, unsurprisingly, it went to the seventh game, the winner takes all decided in Timrå.  

Jonas Engström, who had been second in the team’s internal points race in the season, scored the first of three goals the team would score on the night and Rifalk was unbeaten meaning a 0-3 victory for Oskarshamn. So for the first time in the club’s history and after 23 years in the Hockeyallsvenskan, the Småland club will play in the top division of Swedish hockey next season. 

The Battle of Siljan

The towns of Mora and Leksand lie just 30 km apart at either end of Lake Siljan. Mora had won the last two times these teams had met in the SHL qualifier and with four players scoring more than 30 points on the season, including captain and former NHL/ AHL player Spenser Abbott coming in 13th on Total Points, they were probably favourites over their Allsvenskan rivals. 

But it was not to be. 

Leksand IF took the series with relative ease, 4-1 in games. And it was the unknown 19 year old defenseman, August Berg, pictured, who took the series winning goal for the blue and whites. The Stockholm born player chose the right time to score his first goal at senior level having only played a bit part in the regular season- he scored the game winning goal at 3:08 in overtime to sink Mora on their home ice. 

Dela inlägg:
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

SHL 2018/9 - quarterfinals review - Malmö v Frölunda

Frölunda Indians v Malmö Redhawks 

Last year when these two teams met in the quarterfinals it was underdogs Malmö's who got the better of Frölunda winning the series 4-2.

But the Indians have got their eyes on equaling their unique feat of 2015/6 when they won the Champions Hockey League and SHL in the same year. The Gothenburg team meant business beating Malmö 4-0 in the first home match. The Redhawks may have thought they were in with a chance after squaring the series at 1-1 in Game 2. But the Indians replied in ruthless fashion in Game 3 crushing their rivals 7-2. 30 year old Anders Grönlund in his first season in the SHL and St Louis Blues drafted Simon Hjälmarsson both scoring two goals each. Assist-king and the regular season's top scorer, Ryan Lasch got four assists in the game and former Malmö player, fellow American and New York Islanders drafted Rhett Rakhshani also got two assists.

Malmö have had success which is way above what was expected of them at the beginning of the season. But that their top scorer and captain Fredrik Händemark lies in 35 on Total Points in the playoffs shows that they simply weren't effective enough in front of net. Frölunda were simply too good at both ends of the ice. Chicago Blackhawks drafted netminder Johan Mattsson is in second place in the playoffs, Lasch is in second on Total Points whilst Canadian Olympian defender Chay Genoway is equal top in goals scored with four.

Dela inlägg:
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

SHL 2018/9 - quarterfinals review - HV71 v Färejstad

HV71 - Färjestad BK

The team that won the regular season, Färjestad BK verses the lowest placed team left in the competition, HV71 was not the easy win many had expected. Instead produced the first seven game thriller of the 2019 playoffs.

Buoyed from their wildcard victory, the Jönkoping team took victory in Karlstad in the first game of the series shocking the regular season champs with a Robin Figren goal 17:25 into overtime. The New York Islanders drafted player was assisted by Simon Önerud. The 30 year old has the highest scoring season of his career and is currently leaders the playoff Total Points competition with 3G+5A in nine games

The first four games of the series were all won by the away team. But that trend was broken when Färjestad's 2016 Boston Bruins drafted Oskar Steen scores at 17:26 in the SIXTH period of the match, making it the second longest in Swedish hockey history.

This lead to a strange change in momentum as the last three matches in the series were won by the home team. It was the tallest player in the SHL, Detroit Red Wings drafted Johan Ryno (pictured) that scored the winning goal for Färjestad sealing at 4-3 series victory. He was assisted by Joakim Nygård who leads the team in Total Points with 3G + 3A.

Dela inlägg:
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

SHL 2018/9 - quarterfinals review - Skellefteå v Djurgården

Skellefteå AIK v Djurgården IF

Skellefteå have only failed to make the final once in the past eight seasons and last year beat an inexperienced Djurgården side in the semifinal. Then, the Stockholm club was muscled out of the games by the more mature Norrbotton club, unable to find that little extra to take down their less talented, but cleverer opponents. So when Skellefteå won the opening match away from home and blanked Djurgården in Hovet, it looked like history might repeat itself.

But this year it was youth that won over experience raising the questions of whether Skellefteå roster of 30+ year olds will win another LeMat Trophy again. Joakim Lindström (35), Oscar Möller (30), Mattias Olimb (33) , Fredrik Lindgren (38) , Jesper Jensen (32) and Bud Holloway (31) at least got to play, whilst 39 year old Jimmie Ericsson missed the entire playoffs where he was always an influential force.

Riding through the opening match defeat, Djurgården took the series 4-2 outscoring the northerners 19-12. Adam Reideborn may not have the form that won him 2016/7 netminder if the year, but only once in the series let in more than two goals - Game 2 - and in that game the Stockholm team won 6-3.

Revenge from last year's bitter defeat came through a team effort as they spread the points out between them. Emil Bemström, above, the 19 year old Columbus Blue Jackets drafted forward, and 21 year old Washington Capitals drafted Axel Jonsson-Fjällby both finished with 2G +2A. Meanwhile, 20 year old Buffalo Sabres drafted Marcus Davidsson and 22 year old new signing from Leksand IF, Olle Alsing were just behind the others with three (2G+1A).

Dela inlägg:
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

SHL 2018/9 - quarterfinals review - Luleå v Växjö

Luleå HF v Växjö Lakers

The team that came in second narrowly missed first place in the regular season (Luleå) put the defending champions (Växjö) out with 4-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Luleå continued to show the form that gained them that second place outscoring the Lakers two to one in the first games putting 18 goals past the blue and orange clad team. Top scorer was defenseman and former Philadelphia Flyers, Erik Gustafsson (pictured) but it was Emil Larsson who found the net most with four goals. Meanwhile keeper, Joel Lassinantti, holds the position he held in the regular season- best keeper in the playoffs so far.

For the Lakers, Linus Sjöberg managed a point per game with 2G+5A in their postseason foray. But the scout who brought in 32 year old Kris Versteeg from the KHL into the squad with his 653 NHL matches should be asking for a pay rise. The 2004 Boston Bruins drafted player brought in 4G+7A in 12 regular season games and was the team's top goal scorer in the postseason with 4 as well as 2 assists, only one point behind Sjöberg.

Dela inlägg:
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

SHL 2018/9 - 7-10 Playoffs Review

As soon as the last whistle was blown for the regular season, the 7-10 placed teams were battling it out in a best-of-three "Wildcard" series.

Playoff qualifiers 

However, there would be no shock results with both the seventh and eighth placed teams winning their series 2-0 in games. That meant victory for HV71 over Rögle BK and for last year's winners, Växjö Lakers over Örebro HK. But both losing clubs can be satisfied with their first ever taste of playoff hockey in the SHL era.

Dela inlägg:
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

SHL 2018/9 - semi finals start today!

The top four teams in the regular season are the only four teams in the competition and go head to head from Saturday 6 April. But that means that last year’s winners, Växjö Lakers, will not be taking part knocked out by Luleå. 

The best of seven series will see:

Luleå HF v Frölunda Indians 

Färejstad BK v Djurgården IF

Read my articles to see how they got there, who is hot and whose not as the playoff bubble up to their climax.

Dela inlägg:
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

Luleå/ MSSK win SDHL 2018/9

On Thursday night in the Coop Arena in Luleå the home team took their third SDHL title in four years in convincing style in the Match 5 decider.

The pre-match favourites Luleå had won the regular season in style and were expected to walk the series over third placed Linköping.

But the Östergötland club had other ideas and played an extremely impressive series, neutralizing the northern club’s star- forwards and taking many opportunities on the counterattack. 

Match 1

Luleå were totally outplayed in the first match in their home arena and the visitors came out winners 3-0 with goals from Austrian, Denise Altmann, Finn Susanna Tapani and Swede, Pernilla Winberg.

Match 2

The second game in Linköping also saw the underdogs dominate. They forechecked the champions high in their defensive zone or stripped the puck from the Norrbotten team in the mid zone, minimizing entry into the defensive zone and therefore taking out the Luleå best weapon - their strike capability. Goals from Tapani, Winberg and an assist for Altmann on Canadian and NWHL drafted, Kennedy Marchment’s goal secured the 3-1 victory, the second in the series for Linköping.

Match 3

What had been unthinkable beforehand suddenly seemed possible- that Linköping could take the title on home ice with a clean sweep over the northerners. But Luleå did not lie down, took an early goal and then crushed their opponents in the third period ending up 1-5 on the night. Goals by Swedes, Emma Nordin, Melinda Olsson and Linn Peterson as well as Finns, Jenni Hiirkoski and Petra Nieminen.

Match 4

The fourth match saw a return to Luleå but the former champions could not capitalize on their previous victory. So, for the first two periods they again seemed to lose their way as Linköping confidently shutdown their opponents’ offense and created many of their own opportunities. But when Luleå scored the 2-2 goal early in the third, the momentum shifted and Luleå sensed victory as Linköping saw their chance of taking gold slip away. It took just 2:31 of overtime to see Finnish international, Michelle Karvinen to net and the home side gained victory and send the series into a Match 5 decider.

Match 5

It says a lot for the quality of the SDHL this year, and these two teams in particular, that the final should go all the way to five matches. But having the chance to secure victory on their home ice in front of nearly 5000 fans meant suddenly Luleå produced their best hockey completely dismantling their opponents in the first period. 

The omens were not good for Linköping when Luleå’s Nordin scored after only 23 seconds of play. 20 minutes later the match, and series, was effectively over with the home team leading 4-0 after further goals from Rebecca Stenberg, Peterson and Finn, Noora Tulus

This was Stenberg’s last professional match and her second goal on the night made it 5-1 to Luleå with over half the game to play. 

The result was never in doubt and with a 3-2 series victory over Linköping,  Luleå/ MSSK can proudly boast that they are Swedish national champions for the second year in a row. 

Dela inlägg:
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

Congratulations to Färjestad BK - winners of the SHL regular season

Despite losing in overtime last night, Färjestad BK take home to regular season championship race, but only on goal difference, from Luleå HF

Both teams finished with 101 points for the season, averaging 2 points a game, but Färjestad had the largest goal difference in the whole league with +51 - 13 points ahead of rivals Luleå who they beat 3-0 at home on Tuesday in Karlstad. 

This league topping goal difference is due to a team effort. So that when you look at the league’s +/- statistics for the regular season Fãrjestad players dominate, taking eight of the top ten places. Right back Jens Westin led the way with +21. Otherwise it was 2016 Boston Bruins drafted Oskar Steen and other forwards including Linus Johansson, Daniel Viksten, Gustaf Rydahl and Jesper Olofsson who filled the top spots. 

Their new signing for the season, Finland’s Jesse Virtanen (pictured) picking up the best scoring defenseman in the league with 41pts (6G+35A) putting him in an impressive fourth place on Total Points behind the SHL’s top forwards in Ryan Lasch (FHC), Joakim Lindström (SKE) and Derek Roy (LHC). Meanwhile, Färjestad forward Joakim Nygård was second on goal scored with 21. 

And with this club it is very much a Swedish victory - there are only Nordic players on the roster and all but three are Swedes. Furthermore, the team has no NHL match experience whatsoever and of the six players who have played in the AHL no-one has played more than half a season in the league. For example, keeper Mark Werner, drafted by Colorado Avalanche in 2016 played just 4 matches for their AHL outfit, San Antonio Rampage last year. 

Back in Sweden, he and Markus Svensson both finished high up in the netminder’s competition with SVS% of 92.63 and 91.96 putting them in third and sixth behind winner Joel Lassinantti of Luleå. 

Svensson maybe one if they keys players in the playoffs.  Last time Färjestad were in the final was 2014, but it was Svensson and Skellefteå AIK that denied the Karlstad team the title. That was his second title with the Norrbotton club after which he moved to the KHL, only to return to Sweden last autumn.

This home grown group of players now have just one more hurdle to jump - to get successfully through the playoffs so that Färjestad can again be crown as the best in Sweden for the first time since 2011. 

Dela inlägg:
  • A Brit On Thin Ice

All to play for in last game of SHL season

After 51 matches each, the final standings in the SHL will come down to the last game of the season. The results in those matches will determine who wins the regular season; who will have to play an extra match in the playoff ; and, who will will stay in the SHL but not get a part in the playoffs.

Positions 1 and 2

Luleå HF must win in regulation and Färjestad BK lose, otherwise the Karlstad club win after their 3-0 home win over Luleå on Tuesday. If Färjestad's Joakim Nygård, pictured, scores two goals he could also take over the goal scoring competition from Djurgården's Emil Bemström.

Positions 6 and 7

Malmö Redhawks must win in regulation and Skellefteå AIK lose if the Skåne team are to go sixth. Both play matches against teams where they are not automatically favourite to win. In the unlikely event Skelleftea's Joakim Lindström scores eight points in the game against Rögle BK he could take the Total Points competition off Frölunda Indians, Ryan Lasch.

Positions 10 to 12

Only two points separate Örebro HK, Brynäs IF and Linköping HC, but one club will get to play playoff hockey this year. Permutations are complicated but if we just talk about straight regulation wins and losses we can see that:

If Örebro win they are through.

If Brynäs win and Örebro lose they are through.

If Linköping win and both Örebro and Brynäs lose they are through.

What's going to happen? 

Looking at the fixtures, I would go for Färjestad, Malmö and Örebro as the teams most likely to triumph in their quest for first, sixth and tenth spot.

Thursday's matches (with teams involved in must win games, highlighted):

Luleå v Växjö

Rögle v Skellefteå

Mora v Timrå

Färjestad v Djurgården

Malmö v Örebro

HV71 v Linköping

Frölunda v Brynäs

Dela inlägg: